Google Rolling Out RCS in the US Through Messages
Google's attempts at creating an in-house messaging app haven't been particularly successful. While Allo looked promising in its early days, the instant messaging app never took off and had to be canceled. Google then focused their efforts on transitioning the Android Messages app into something useful by adding RCS support. However, the process was time-consuming and carrier-dependant. As a result, only a handful of users on specific devices got the feature. Today, Google officially rolling out RCS in Messages in the US.
RCS Brings Google Messages on par with third-party instant messaging apps
Until now, Messages relied on SMS technology. At this point, it is deprecated and a relic of the past. SMS also lacks several features such as group chats, read receipts and the ability to send files. Additionally, it also works on WiFi and the best part is, you don't have to pay per text. Google's blog post further adds:
Chat features are already available for some of you in Messages, and today we’re starting to broadly roll them out in the U.S. If you already have Messages, you’ll also be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. If you don’t have Messages, you can download it on the Play Store. We expect this service to be broadly available in the U.S. by the end of year.
You'll know you got it when the Messages app asks you to slide up a bottom panel in the main conversations list titled “New! See when friends are typing” or “Messages just got better.” There will be a big Upgrade/Accept button. You can also enable RCS features at a later point via the settings.
This is a much-needed upgrade to the Android Messages app. For the longest time, Android users have had to rely on third-party solutions for their instant messaging needs. Apple managed to cultivate a wide network of users using iMessage and now, Android can only hope to catch up. You will have to enable RCS functionality in the Messages via a prompt and Google says that the features will be available to users in the US gradually.
Google should have upgraded Messages a long time ago
At this point, due to the lack of a native app, Android users have already moved on to third-party applications. There is hardly any incentive for them to switch, considering that the likes of WhatsApp and Telegram already have all RCS features plus a lot more.
While this was a long-overdue upgrade to Messages, I'm not sure how it'll attract the already scattered userbase of other instant messaging apps. It'll be interesting to see how Google incentivizes users to get on board Messages and use it as their daily driver.
The only way for Google to make Messages work is to make the RCS features available globally. However, that is a lot more complicated than it seems owing to a plethora of reasons. For starters, several countries have mandatory SMS monitoring policies, and that'll be impossible to implement through RCS. Lastly, a lot of carriers wouldn't want to lose out on SMS revenue and would disable RCS on their networks altogether.
Do let us know in the comments if you're able to access the new RCS features in Messages in the US.